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LAGUNA NIGUEL : At 5 Degrees, This Family Is Really Hot

June 02, 1993|ANNA CEKOLA

Robert and Linda Iger believe that a college education is the most important thing they can give their four children.

Little did they dream, however, that such a commitment would someday mean they'd be putting almost all their children, and Robert himself, through college at once. Or that all would graduate at the same time.

But on Saturday, daughter Heather's graduation from San Francisco State University with a bachelor's degree in art history kicked off the first of many commencement celebrations to come for the Igers this spring, capping four years of study and financial sacrifice.

On Sunday, Robert and son Todd, 26, became the first father-son team to graduate at the same time from Western State University College of Law. In two weeks, 21-year-old daughter Denise, Heather's twin, will graduate from UC San Diego with a bachelor's degree in political science and will take a few months off before starting law school.

Even the Igers' youngest child, 13-year-old Brad, is getting in on the act. In three weeks, he'll be graduating from eighth grade at Niguel Hills Middle School.

"I can't believe how much of a relief this is going to be," said a proud Linda Iger, the only one in the family who is not graduating. "We'll just have one tuition next fall. That's going to be a piece of cake. I mean, we can actually afford to go out to a movie. That's going to be a novelty."

Since Robert, 52, and Todd started law school on a part-time basis 3 1/2 years ago, the couple have been paying an estimated $75,000 to $80,000 a year in college fees and living expenses for their children.

It's been a major sacrifice, but one they say has been well worth the struggle.

"We really think it is the most important thing you can give to your children," said Linda Iger, a clinical psychologist at South Coast Medical Center in Laguna Beach, who holds two doctoral degrees of her own. "You can give them money and things, but this is teaching them how the world works, how to get ahead in the world."

That commitment also goes toward advanced study.

Robert Iger said he offered to attend law school with his son when it looked like Todd might hold off going back to school for an advanced degree.

"In this economy, a bachelor's degree doesn't qualify you for a lot," said Robert Iger, an investment banker who already has a master's in international trade. "You need an advanced degree."

Todd, who graduated four years ago from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in economics, said he couldn't resist his dad's offer.

"The big thing is he said he would go with me, and he would pay for it all," Todd said.

It was also the start of a friendly competition, with the two ending up with almost identical grade-point averages.

Since starting law school, both Robert and Todd kept their jobs and went to school at night. About a year ago, Todd even found time to form his own business, West Coast Business Supply in Laguna Hills.

For now, both plan on using their law degrees to enhance their current work.

But with Denise going to law school next year, and Brad hoping to someday become an environmental law attorney, the family jokes that they might form a family firm of "Iger, Iger, Iger & Iger."

When it comes down to it, the Iger children say they like school, and that they've just always assumed that college would be in their future.

As Denise summarized: "We're all really lucky to have the opportunity."

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